The World Celebrates "Belintersat-1" Fifth Year Operation As A Viable Satellite Company
Alongside the so-called "big three" satellite operators and others with fleets of up to ten or more orbital units, there co-exist in the world satellite communications operators operating a single satellite in orbit. One such operator is the Belintersat-1, a Belarusian satellite operation. The communications satellite operation with both Ð¡- and Ku-band capacities was launched exactly five (5) years ago - in January 2016 - to the GEO position 51,5° E.
In celebration of the fifth year anniversary of the Belintersat-1 operation, Broadcast Media Africa (BMA) caught up Mr Dzmitry Zakaliukin, the head of Aerospace Operations of Enterprise at the "Precise Electromechanics Factory" to talk to the industry about how the operations have grown and provided service to its global customers.
Here is an excerpt of our conversation with the representative of the Belarusian satellite operation, Belintersat-1
BMA: While the "Belintersat" satellite system was created primarily for the national telecommunications infrastructure development, has it successfully reached overseas markets?
Dzmitry Zakaliukin: That has not been an easy task to be achieved. Unlike transnational companies, we don't have subsidiaries or representative offices overseas. Potential satellite resource customers have not known our brand. Taking account of that, we highly appreciate the Belintersat's partnership with the Hong Kong-based company "Belinter Media" which has connected us to a number of foreign clients.
If to speak about Sub-Saharan Africa's achievements, "Belintersat" has sufficiently amassed the clients' base of video content broadcasters, which take advantage of our capacities. For the time being Nigerian TV packages My TV, TStv Africa, FreeView Africa, six Ethiopian TV channels, German package Panbetting, which is nevertheless actively promoted throughout Africa, are distributed via "Belintersat-1".
We have also taken a step towards VPN operations by providing the data communications to the DRC's General Directorate of Customs and Excise. That's not too much to compare these services' volumes with the ones provided by such companies as Spacecom, ABS, and Arabsat, not to mention the "big three" entities. Nevertheless, "Belintersat" is proud of the opportunity to be useful for African clients.
BMA: What is your vision of the "Belintersat" advantages in the highly competitive satellite communications market?
Dzmitry Zakaliukin: As far as "Belintersat" is a relatively new project, it tries to be as responsive as possible to the needs and demands of other new projects.
Realising the importance of good pricing for their development, we offer transponder services at tariffs, which sufficiently lag behind the prices set for capacities at premium satellite positions. "Belintersat" has recently developed the special price offer for transponder services at East C-band beam. Although it does not directly relate to the African market, I think it could be of interest to some African TV channels, since the relations between African and Asian regions become closer.
Due to the remoteness of African and Asian markets from Belarus, we are looking for new commercial partnerships which could act as our authorised representatives throughout the West African and South-East Asian sub-regions. "Belintersat" is open to the integration of its transponder services with terrestrial end-user solutions.
BMA: Is "Belintersat" going to further restrict its overseas operations to transponder services without getting involved in managed services provision?
Dzmitry Zakaliukin: Mainly, but not entirely. We are permanently improving our technical facilities for providing managed services. Thus in the fourth quarter of 2020, conditional access system DRECrypt was put to operation at the teleport of our ground control station. It ensures video signal encoding in the MPEG group of standards with the number of sets of channels of up to 256. This CAS grants our company the opportunity to form content packages with differentiated access conditions.
We can now integrate the content received at our teleport, with the conversion, up-linking, and distribution into our all-inclusive service. This service is also compounded with conditional access modules' lease for DTO content receiving.
BMA: Please tell us how "Belintersat" is ensuring the continued operation of your satellite systems
Dzmitry Zakaliukin: I think that the list of services ensuring the system operation is identical to any other operator. The satellite control and service provision run in the 24/7/365 regime. The ground control station incorporates the units responsible for space segment flight's control, payload control, ground application systems operation, antennas and frequency equipment. Otherwise speaking our staff ensures the entire operational cycle of the satellite system. Our staff crew's nucleus is with "Belintersat" since the early stages of its planning.
The majority crew members are university graduates with degrees in aero spaÑï¿½e, computer and telecommunications sciences with practical training at China Academy of Space Technology. I think that we have successfully built up the greenfield system of recruiting specialists and introduced them into satellite operation practice.
BMA: Which one of the satellite communication market's segments do you consider the most future-oriented for "Belintersat-1."
Dzmitry Zakaliukin: By the end of the expected service in 2031, the space segment of "Belintersat" will probably not be restricted to just "Belintersat-1". As for the near future, we aim to improve our offer at the video market, targeting both the mature market players who wish to expand their content's distribution and newcomers' scope.